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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Zendone - 1 year (and a bit) later

The first post I published on this blog was about Zendone. It was my motivation to start this blog, as I thought this tool could help other people to improve their productivity the same way it improved mine. Now, Zendone just finished its Beta phase a month ago and started to offer a premium upgrade, I thought it would be time to review Zendone again and show what has changed since then.

First of all I am still a passionate Zendone user and I have upgraded to Premium. As far as I can see from the comments under the announcement, there are a lot of Zendone fans, who have done the same. Although some users complaint, that there is still no Android app. On the one hand, I think it is right to complaint, as there are a lot of companies, that go iOS first (I use an Android tablet and know that problem). On the other hand, this is a small company with restricted developer (and financial) resources and the Android app is on its way. So in my opinion, plaindrops should take their time to build a high-quality app, that matches the standard of their current versions.

As I wrote in my first article, I was waiting desperately for the iOS app. In the meantime plaindrops published the iPhone app. For me, it meets the requirement to have my tasks on the go, but still the web app is the main place for my project and task processing.

The main concept of the web app stayed the same (though the order of the sections was changed since then): There is a "do" panel for your next actions, a "review & organize" view for the processing of your tasks and projects and a "process inbox" for your incoming reference files and tasks.

I will not go much into detail, about all the new features. There are a lot of information on the Zendone-blog (as in the last Change Log). One of the main aspects that have changed since my first review are the areas of responsibility. The initial status were only two default configurations "home" and "work". Now, you can create your own areas of responsibility and I have aligned those to my Evernote "folders". Nevertheless, for me the "all" view is the most important one, to be able to see all open tasks at once.

The logic of the "do" view was overhauled in July of last year and this has enhanced Zendone remarkably. It does not only show the starred actions (though this feature is still available) but all next actions (the first open task) from every project. So now it makes much more sense to sort the actions of your project in the way you want to work on them.

Zendone still lacks some important functions, like the archiving of old projects (up to now all my closed projects are stored in a folder called "archive") and the creation of subprojects. Zendone has improved the core functions and added some really important features as well. I hope the money that comes from the premium option helps plaindrops to implement some of the requested features.

All in all Zendone is still the right tool for me as it is fast, intuitive and gets the job better done than any app I have used before.

--- Update from 2013-06-09 ---

The Android app for Zendone is in Beta now. If you want to have more information on this check the entry in the Zendone blog. I am already using the Beta version and I am quite pleased. I will add more information when version 1.0 is ready.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Goodbye Google Reader, Hello Feedly

As I read that Google Reader will be closed in Google's current spring cleaning, I was shocked. I have used Google Reader for several years now to keep track of my favourite websites.

Just a few weeks ago, I discovered Feedly, a very good designed RSS reader. I use the iOS version on the iPhone, the Android version on the HTC Flyer and the web version from the Chrome Web Store. The slogan of the tool is "Re-imagine how people keep in touch with their favorite sites" and this totally nails it. It has a very clear UI and reading news on one of their several apps really pleases me.

On a current blog post, Feedly promises that transition from GoogleReader to their tool will go seamlessly and that Feedly is also "working on a project called Normandy which is a feedly clone of the Google Reader API". They even posted some tips for people migrating from GoogleReader to Feedly.

All in all, the Google Reader was not enhanced for a long time and even some of the "social" features were removed in 2011. The end of the GoogleReader will bring some movement in the news reader market. There are some possible competitors out there, but  there are several reasons to go with Feedly.

Update on 2013-03-18:
Feedly has 500.000 new users.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

KustomNote - Note Templates for Evernote

On KustomNote, the Evernote's Silver Devcup winner of 2012, you can create note templates for Evernote. It was made for those people, who constantly create notes using the same structure again and again. It allows you to create templates for those notes with defined fields, tags, folder and other configurations. One great feature of KustomNote is the possibility to share your note templates and to use the public available note templates as well. In this post, I will give an overview of how KustomNote works.

In the main menu of the app you can see the templates you create. By clicking on one of the buttons, you create a new note using this template. We will come to that later. As you can see, I have created some templates for my productivity tasks, like new projects or goals. There is also a button for "New Template".

Note Templates

When creating a new template, you first add some details about the template (e.g. name, description and the icon which is shown in the main menu) and some specifications for the storing in Evernote (folder and tags).

One of the things I like most about KustomNote is, that you can select a Note Theme and a color for your note, so you can create really unique notes from every template.

Note Theme and Color selection


The definition of fields for your Evernote template is the most important part of the template creation. You set a title for every field and choose from several types. This can be very straight-forward types like "One line text" but also so-called SmartFields for Movies or GoogleContacts. You can add some additional details to the fields. The "Use for Tagging" option is one of my favourites, as the automatical tagging saves me a lot of time.

Define fields for the template


By clicking on a template, you are directed on the "new note" screen. The fields we defined for this template can be filled. As you can see, there is a calendar widget for the "Date and Time" field we added.

Create a note from template

This is the result in Evernote. The note was added with the design that we chose.

Result in Evernote

KustomNote is one of the few web services, that make my life much easier. If you have only one note type for which you use always the same structure, I would recommend you to try this service. It is a very intuitive and fun way to create note templates with beautiful results.